We spent several months in Guatemala last year cultivating relationships with new artisan partners, and came think of Guatemala as a third home (after California and the Dominican Republic of course!). Below is our recommended itinerary for a long weekend around Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, where our jewelry is sourced from.
Explore in Panajachel, Guatemala
As the jumping off point for the rest of Lake Atitlan, Panajachel has more hustle and bustle then the other towns surrounding the lake. Starting at the north end of town, stop by the colorful produce and flower market before visiting the magnificent Catholic Church and plaza constructed in 1567.
Then hop in a tuk- tuk and head to the top of Calle Santander, Panajachel’s main corridor that is lined with colorful stalls featuring new and vintage textiles and handicrafts.
Observe the unique patterns and colors of each item; these represent specific villages, histories and and people groups around Lake Atitlan. Stroll down Calle Santander and practice your bargaining skills, then regroup with a refreshing iced coffee at Cafe Loco. Continue down Calle Santander until it dead-ends at Panajachel’s breathtaking vista with gorgeous views of Lake Atitlan and surrounding volcanoes. Sunrises and sunsets from this deck will be a highlight of your stay in Panajachel.
From Panajachel, take a lancha (small boat) to visit the other communities around Lake Atitlan. Lanchas cost a few dollars and leave approximately every 30 minutes stopping at each village around Lake Atitlan.
What To See And Do Around Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Volunteer in Santiago, Atitlan: Our partner organization, Sharing the Dream, supports over 20 community development projects including tutoring students, caring for the elderly and helping artisans develop new products. They gladly receive volunteers to lend an extra hand, and you can stay at their hostel in Panajachel or Santiago Atitlan, with proceeds benefiting their social programs.
Apprentice in San Pedro la Laguna: Create your own tassels, scarf or table runner during a back-strap weaving and natural dye workshop with the talented artisans at Teixchel Weaving Cooperative. Gain a profound new appreciation for textiles as you learn about time-honored artistic traditions passed down from generation to generation.
Relax in Bohemian San Marcos la Laguna: Known for it’s relaxed vibe, organic food, yoga studios and workshop ranging from mushroom growing to cocoa ceremonies, San Marcos is the perfect place to unplug and rejuvinate. Stay at Hotel La Paz and enjoy their lush tropical garden, reading loft, and morning yoga under a thatched roof hut. Brunch at Circle's Cafe for healthy, flavorful dishes ranging from a typico Guatemala breakfast (eggs, refried beads, platanos, tortillas, farmer's cheese and avocados) to homemade granola and smoothie bowls.
Caffeinate in San Juan la Laguna: Coffee-lovers, this town is for you! Don't miss the organic coffee farm tour at Cooperativa La Voz. Led by a local coffee farmer, the half-day tour winds its way through small coffee plots where coffee's entire seed to cup process is explained. You’ll see coffee cherries in various stages of ripeness ranging from coffee blossoms to fully ripe red cherries. Hike below the cover of banana, avocado and papaya trees while learning about coffee farming and the steps needed to prepare fair trade, organic coffee for export. The tour ends with a delicious meal of Pepian (meat and vegetable stew) prepared on-site with views of coffee beans drying on the adjacent patios. If your timing is right, you’ll even have the chance to rake coffee beans as they bake in the sun.
Have you been to Guatemala? Comment below with your favorite places to visit!